Asus' gaming brand, Republic of Gamers, unveiled its latest gadget to keep you gaming no matter when or where during its Computex 2018 press conference. The ROG mobile phone is designed specifically for gamers and it could even be the most powerful phone on the market full stop, when it launches soon.
Built to last and munch through games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite, it is a flagship spec phone with incredible performance - as we found out when we got our grubby little paws on it shortly before the event. It comes with some interesting peripherals too.
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First up, the design breaks away from the usual handset aesthetic with a sleek but chunky look - much like ROG gaming laptops. From the front it looks like a regular metal-framed handset with Gorilla curved glass but flip it over and the diamond cut highlights and copper detailing clearly mark this out as a gaming device. Then there is the illuminated ROG logo (which can be customised to respond to phone events) which rather gives the game away too (pun entirely intended).
Performance-wise, it is exceptionally smooth - as to be expected for such a device. It runs well even when casting a game to a TV (more on that later), and the secret is the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processing, which has been speed-binned to run at up to 2.69GHz. The gaming-optimised Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU is no slouch either.
At the launch in Taipei ahead of Computex 2018, Don McGuire, the vice president of global product marketing for Qualcomm took to the stage and commented: "Our entirely re-architected Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform with the gaming-optimised Adreno 630 GPU is designed for speed, minimising thermal throttling and maximising battery efficiency so a user can play longer," he noted.
"Snapdragon 845 is engineered to deliver users an unparalleled gaming experience; supporting exceptional performance, fast and smooth graphics and Gigabit speeds whether on LTE or 802.11ad Wi-Fi."
It certainly went like the clappers in our hands-on tests.
But having such high spec also means that the ROG Phone needs to have some serious cooling to keep things running at their peak. And this is provided by the GameCool system. It comprises vapour-chamber cooling, a carbon cooling pad and copper heat spreader. Plus, just in case you really want to go all-in with a mammoth gaming session, the ROG Phone also comes bundled with an external Aeroactive cooler for good measure.
This adds an extra fan to the mix and forces air into the phone from outside. We found it also helped the device to feel a little more secure in our hands as we played.
The Aeroactive bolt-on also enables power and headphone connections to be run off the side of the phone, so that cables are unobtrusive while the phone is being held in portrait mode. The regular power slot is also positioned on the centre of the side for gaming when the peripheral isn’t attached.
Another great touch is the utilisation of AirTriggers - two programmable ultrasonic sensors that give you game controls through haptic feedback. You just float your fingers above the edge of the screen, leaving the whole screen free for visuals. When we tried it we found that it was intuitive and meant that we got to enjoy the gaming experience rather than constantly looking down for on-screen buttons when using a regular mobile device.
On top of all this the 6-inch 2160 x 1080 AMOLED HDR display has super-fast 90Hz refresh rates with a 1ms response time. This allows for a blur-free performance and looks fantastic with its 108 per cent DCi-P3 colour gamut.
Another great feature is the X Mode which gives the user the ability to disable activities that sap the phone's 8GB RAM with a simple tap. The customisable menu can also disable other pesky apps and actions, such as incoming phone calls or notifications as well - freeing up the full capabilities of the unit for gaming.
Of course, some people may prefer to have notifications or other apps running at the same time as gaming, and this is entirely possible with the TwinView Dock that features an additional, auxiliary 6-inch AMOLED screen. As well as having messaging apps or live streaming and the like open on the lower, second screen, it can also be used as an extended game display. The ROG phone slips into the upper half and the extra physical trigger buttons on the rear of the dock make this into a (slightly bulky) handheld console with an extra 6,000mAh battery pack.
The GameVice controller is another peripheral that the ROG phone slides into in order to create a more portable handheld console. It can then be streamed onto a TV or big screen using a WiGig dock if you feel like showing off your skills to your mates. In this form you get old school-style analogue joysticks, fire triggers and bumpers, A, B, X, Y buttons and so on.
It’s fair to say that Republic of Gamers has put a lot of thought into the design and specs on the ROG phone. It is not just a gaming device, but a super powerful mobile handset in its own right.
And while it wouldn’t be drawn on a price during our grilling at Computex, taking everything into consideration, plus its flagship level smartphone features, we’d hazard a guess that it might be around the £800 to £1,000 mark.
We'll hopefully find out for sure in the coming weeks and months, with a release set for around early September.